Saturday, August 8, 2009

The homestretch

In less than 3 weeks, we all officially become Peace Corps Volunteers and will soon be affectated to our sites all around Burkina Faso! To be completely honest, training has been drawn-out and long ever since we returned from our site really is the homestretch, and boy am I feeling it! And on top of that, it is damn hot. Hot, hot, hot! With flies everywhere...I hate those damn flies so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Trust me, it was necessary to have that many exclamation points.) It's supposedly the rainy season, so temperatures have been a little cooler but apparently not enough. I guess this year, it hasn't rained much so for a country who depends mostly on subsistence farming, that's not a good sign at all.

We've all started on local languages now, and I think I'm starting to get a little confused. Whenever all of us trainees get together, we speak English. During our technical sessions, sometimes with our families, and if we go food shopping, we speak French. When we're greeting fellow Burkinabè or even in our families, we speak Mooré. My family is Peulh (another ethnic group in BF) so they speak Fulfulde (even if I can only understand a word or two). Since I'm heading to the Southwest of BF, I'm learning Dioula and will also be learning basic phrases for another language called Lobiri. Insane!! And none of these languages sound the same at no means do I think I'll be completely fluent in the last ones I listed, but all of them are starting to mix in my head a bit!

Back to training being the homestretch, we'll be conducting Life Skills sessions (decision-making, HIV/AIDS sensibilizations, etc.) at Model School next week and it's a little nerve-wracking but I'm still excited for it. We just got some practice doing radio shows and actually recorded our own radio program at the local station here in Ouahigouya. So hilarious! Doing a radio show is a possible secondary activity at site to sensibilize people on specific issues or whatnot. We're also talking more and more about the potential activities we can do at site from English clubs or girls' camps to building school gardens...literally, the list is endless!! On a more personal note, we're all really excited to break the confines of a rigid schedule everyday and live on our own terms while at site, most especially, cooking for ourselves. We got a cookbook of things to make with limited ingredients/resources and I'm excited to get started ASAP! I've been a little more pensive now and take my time on those bike rides back to village, soaking in the African landscape of northern Burkina.

As I mentioned before, in less than 3 weeks we become official Peace Corps Volunteers...our Swear-In Ceremony is set for August 25th at the US Ambassador's Residence in Ouagadougou and it's supposed to be this extravagant celebration with ministers from the Burkinabè government, dignitaries, PC staff and other PC Volunteers! A lot of us are getting complets (outfits) made -- including me! I've had a fabric and outfit in mind and am hoping it turns out the way I want it. I went to the marché to buy the dark blue, shiny fabric, went to the tailor to get my measurements and voilà! My blog entry on Swear-In will definitely have pictures.

On another note, it'll definitely be bittersweet leaving my host family. I'm trying to spend as much time in village as possible to enjoy my experience. It's interesting being plopped into a completely different culture and living with a host family. They've helped me in ways that are indescribable and am already thinking of possible gifts as a token of my appreciation. One really good example was when I did laundry after coming back from training one day and ended up having to hang my clothes outside overnight...unfortunately, the winds started to pick up and it was supposed to rain so I had to cram all my wet clothes inside my hut. The next morning, my host dad asks for my clothes to hang while I'm gone for the day...I come back home later that afternoon to find a row of my underwear hanging on a line in the middle of our family compound!

Abdulaziz and I with my line of underwear. Loves it.

Plus, I was thinking of bringing food from Ouahigouya one day and making a meal! My Mom and Dad sent me a pretty big package filled with goodies (chocolate, snacks (Goldfishes and Cheez-Its!!), other necessities) from the US so I feel a little spoiled everytime I eat some of them. But I figured it would be a good gift to give to my host family. Man, I'm going to miss them!

And on a completely unrelated note, I heard that on the show 'Jon and Kate Plus 8,' they split up...whaaat?! Kate is living with the kids and Jon is living in a bachelor's pad in NYC. MAN.


Camille said...

I miss you so much mikey! Oh nine partied in sj last night and I was reminded of your going away shindig. I'm so proud of you! Keep us updated on where we should mail things. I haven't gotten around to writing but I will soon. Love you! I hope you're doing well and were always thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mikey:
What a great blog! Thanks for all the details and pictures! I googled PCV and got your blog. Colette doesn't write as much as you. I am so glad you became friends. I hope she is sharing some of her snacks with you. Good Luck with learning all the different languages. I can't wait to see the graduation photos. Hugs and Kiss to all the PCV's. (Colette's Mom) Jeanne

Shannon O'Holleran said...

MIKEY! its so good to read your blogs! im glad youre doing well and everything is going good for you over there! i miss you so much and cant wait to see you again! i love seeing the pictures you post while youre over there! keep posting your blogs and let me know if theres anything else you need while over there (maybe more goldfish! haha!) miss you and love you@

love Shannon! :)

cecilia said...

ok son, are you letting your hair grow? it looks long now. you should probably cut your hair short since it's too hot over there, whatcha think?

you're lucky to have such loving and caring host family. thanks to them. you should also be thankful to the roosters for serving as your wake up call. hahaha

congrats in advance for officially becoming a peace corps volunteer in two weeks. please extend my congratulations too to your fellow pcv's for their committment. i'm proud of you son.

miss you and love you.

Kristine Tulio said...

Mikey, you make me so proud. And, your hair is getting hella long!!!!! =) I miss you very much so. <3 you.

Tiptoe21 said...

Hey Mikey! It seems like you're enjoying your experience there. I'm so happy for you. I wish you luck, and I hope to see you soon so you can tell stories!

- Yvette

Sable :) said...


LOVE of my LIFE! So I finally sent you a little something. But clearly have not mastered the postal system yet. It should get there eventually but I might have overpaid a bit. OH WELL you are SO worth it. Just as long as it gets there eventually.

LOVE your blog it helps me still feel close to you and all your amazing adventures. Well I tell you everything I have been dying to tell you in the package but know I MISS YOU!!!

ALL MY LOVE to you in AF-RI-CA


Pamela Grace said...

HEY BOY HEY! I miss you terribly. I get so encouraged when I read your blogs. I'm so happy that we have people like you in this world who serve others. It's these acts of kindness that keep our world going. I'm so privileged to call you friend. I LOVE YOU SECRET LOVER!

Leslie said...

Hey Mikey! Glad to see things are going so well. I really love reading your blog and seeing where you are going to live over the next two years. Quite the crib, very cool, and congrats on everything. I will write you again soon.